Lolly Luck by Ellie Daines

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Lolly Luck by Ellie Daines

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Category: Confident Readers
Rating: 4/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: Lolly is lucky by name and by nature - until her eleventh birthday when everything goes wrong. A wise look at unemployment, homelessness, infidelity and friendship.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 192 Date: January 2012
Publisher: Andersen
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1849393966

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Lolly really is called 'Luck'. Her first name is Lollyanna but everyone who knows her calls her Lolly or, just occasionally, Lollipop. And she really is lucky, winning magazine competitions, raffles and scratch card prizes - but all this changes on her eleventh birthday when she goes home from school expecting that the family is going to have a great evening at a local restaurant and that she'll be given the bike she's been dreaming about. She gets the bike, but her dad has bad news. He's been made redundant. At first it's not too bad but then the reality of long-term unemployment kicks in and the family lose their home. Then Lolly overhears an argument between her parents and discovers something which will change her life.

Ellie Daines has captured a situation will will be all to real for many children - if not to themselves then to someone they know. Even adults who have been in reliable jobs all their lives are unemployed and there's a candid (if slightly scary) picture of the realities of the situation. Not every redundancy package results in the loss of the home and the break-up of a marriage but Daines shows how Lolly is caught up in a situation over which she has no control and results in her, her mother and sister living in a flat on a council estate with a dreadful reputation.

It's not just about unemployment though. Lolly's a feisty, bright child with a talent for acting and when she gets the starring part in Pollyanna there are the inevitable jealousies in the classroom. It's a non-preachy and wise look at the values of friendship and honesty in what you do. Daines tackles some big topics in this books - unemployment, loss of a home, marital infidelity and friendship - but does it with sensitivity and an understanding of the frailty of human nature. Adults are not perfect - they make serious mistakes - but what matters is not what happened but how you move on.

It is a book for girls in the nine-to-eleven age group and I was delighted to see a black heroine and family. Ethnicity isn't a factor in the story which is universal, but it's still good to see a book where the man characters are not white. It will appeal to fans of Cathy Cassidy, Jacqueline Wilson and Jean Ure. For more about friendship we can also recommend Opal Moonbaby by Maudie Smith and the slightly older girl will also appreciate Love Ya Babe by Chris Higgins.

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